Energy bill help to be reduced from April, says Jeremy Hunt
A scheme to cap all household energy bills for two years will be cut from April, the new chancellor has said.
Jeremy Hunt said the support – which limits a typical household bill to £2,500 – would be reviewed so it cost “significantly less than planned”.
He said the most vulnerable would continue to be protected from soaring wholesale energy prices.
The move sparked concern among consumer groups who warned households would be plunged into uncertainty.
“Everyone knows why decisions have been made at breakneck speed, but there are questions that need to be answered, and answered quickly,” said National Energy Action boss Adam Scorer.
“Who will still get support? Will it include vulnerable households not on welfare benefits? Will that support be deeper for those in greatest need?”
Mr Hunt is trying to save money after the government’s mini-budget left a big projected hole in the public finances. Its plan for large tax cuts sparked turmoil on financial markets over how the plans would be funded.
“Beyond [April], the Prime Minister and I have agreed it would not be responsible to continue exposing public finances to unlimited volatility in international gas prices,” the chancellor said.
“The objective is to design a new approach that will cost the taxpayer significantly less than planned whilst ensuring enough support for those in need,” he said.
Under the Energy Price Guarantee, announced last month, Ms Truss’s government capped all household energy bills for two years from 1 October in a bid to prevent millions facing hardship this winter.
Now that will only be in place for six months, just to cover this winter. The Treasury will review support given from April, but Mr Hunt said there would be “a new approach” targeting those in the most need.
Before this guarantee was introduced, the energy price cap – the highest amount suppliers are allowed to charge households for every unit of energy they use – had been due to rise to £3,549 for a typical household from October.
Predictions from consultants Cornwall Insight suggest that, for households that do not receive any support, a typical annual energy bill could be £4,347 in the spring, dropping to £3,722 next winter – however that prediction could be significantly affected by changing wholesale prices
Consumer rights campaigner Martin Lewis said that while the support for intervention had been desperately needed, a “universal energy price guarantee was always expensive and poorly targeted”.
But he added: “The post-April support will still need to reach a decent way up the net and support middle earners, energy rates are still huge.”
Ms Truss’s plan – thought to cost up to £150bn – was to be funded through government borrowing after the prime minister rejected calls to extend a windfall tax on oil and gas firms.
However, former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng followed it with plans to cut taxes by some £45bn.
Concerns about rising borrowing sparked turmoil on financial markets which spilled over into the mortgage market, where interest rates on loans have surged to 14-year highs.
On Monday, Mr Hunt promised to review the energy support while also reversing £32bn worth of the planned tax cuts. The new chancellor said he was doing “what is necessary for economic stability”.
He added that the Energy Price Guarantee had been “the biggest single expense” of Mr Kwarteng’s growth plan.
When it was announced, many had criticised the scheme for not being targeted enough, arguing the support should have been means tested.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, which had described the package as “clearly not sustainable in the long-term”, welcomed Mr Hunt’s decision.
“While large-scale untargeted support for households this winter was perhaps unavoidable we need to do everything possible to put in place a better designed, better targeted and less expensive scheme next year,” said IFS director Paul Johnson.
Call for clarity
But the Centre for Ageing Better, a charity, said many older people faced an anxious wait to find out how much help they would get.
Boss Carole Easton said: “The previous two-year promise provided a level of security for people in uncertain times.
“It is vital that the government gives plenty of advance notice with clear messaging as to who will be eligible for targeted support in April.”
Under Ms Truss’s scheme, businesses are protected for six months from soaring energy prices, with those struggling most set to continue receiving help pending a review.
Mr Hunt suggested the targeted approach would continue, but the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called for clarity.
“The review to come on business and consumer energy support after six months must avoid a cliff-edge for small firms that remain impacted and vulnerable,” said the FSB’s national chair, Martin McTague.
Martin Lewis has warned people there could be blackouts this winter if people don’t cut their energy usage.
The money saving expert returned on his popular ITV1 Martin Lewis Money Show Live on Tuesday night, where he issued a stark warning about the possibility of blackouts unless people do more this winter to cut use.
He issued a 9 point plan to everyone on how to reduce their energy and gas consumption, moments after he said that energy prices have risen by 96% since last winter and are due to rise another 48% in April.
Martin told viewers: “Make your house as energy efficient as you possibly can. It’s good for your pocket. Good for the environment and good for energy security which is at risk this winter. We do not want power cuts so this is a social responsibility.”
He took viewers through a ‘Get your house in order’ checklist which included several things to check to help avoid blackouts.
‘Boiler no brainer’
Martin said: “Take my one degree challenge. The World Health Organisation says 18C is fine for healthy adults. Younger, older or ill you might need more.
“It’s not for me to tell you what to do but I’d like you to try reducing one degree. Say you’re at 21C, try reducing to 20C. That could save you around 10% on your heating bill.
“If your heating is only kicking in at 15C and you’re heating to 21, only heating to 20C is actually a significant saving. Don’t think 0 to 20 think 15 to 20.”
Martin also advised people not to turn the thermostat up when they get cold.
“Now look, your thermostat will get you up to the temperature you want. This is a panic reaction, I’m cold I’m going to put it up more. The thermostat dictates what the temperature is, don’t turn it up just wait for it to get to the heat and then you won’t need to pay too much more.
Martin Lewis then set out the website MoneySavingBoilerChallenge.com.
He added: “Nothing to do with me, this is a website that takes you through, if you’ve got a combi boiler, and the vast majority of you do, how to turn down the flow rate.
“You’d normally want it to be around 60C, but most people’s boilers are set higher, that’s really inefficient, you can turn this down, it won’t affect the heat of your house it’ll still be the same temperature, it won’t affect your hot water temperature. It might take slightly longer to get up to the maximum temperature. But it can cut £100 a year off your bill, it’s well worth everyone doing.
“This is an absolute no brainer, everyone with a combi boiler should be trying this one.”
Don’t use tumble dryers
Martin Lewis explained that tumble dryers are expensive and use a lot of power costing as much as £1 per use, so avoiding using them where possible would help make big savings.
Fit a free water savings shower head
You can get a free one from SaveWaterSaveMoney.co.uk and there are 900,000 being given away for nothing. It works by adding air to the mix of the water, meaning it spaces out the amount of water being used. But the real saving is that less water needs to be heated.
Put foil behind radiators
Check your fridge
Your fridge shouldn’t be lower than 5C and your freezer shouldn’t be lower than -18C. Changing them could save you money
Check your TV energy setting
Your TV may have an eco setting or standby settings you can change to make it use less energy
Use tactical curtains
Open the curtains during sunshine and let that heat in. Close them at night and keep the heat inside. Felt lined curtains work even better. Cling film on windows can also save you money.
Don’t be afraid to touch your knob
Yes really. Martin Lewis says turning down individual radiator thermostatic controls can help save money
Turn draught detective
Walk around your house and try to find where the draughts are. Escaping air means heat loss! Sausage dog draft excluders as well as cling film on windows helps.
Electricity and gas prices are soaring across Europe, with bills close to double from last year in most European capitals, according to new data from the Household Energy Price Index—a monthly tracker of energy prices for households across 33 European capitals, including the 27 EU member states and several non-members.
According to the data collected for the HEPI, natural gas bills in Europe have gone up by as much as 111 percent over the past year, with electricity prices up by an average of 69 percent. Taken together, Euronews calculates these two make for a total 90-percent increase in household energy bills over the past year.
“Significantly higher [energy prices] compared to one year ago … can be attributed to a combination of factors, such as increased demand connected to post-pandemic economic recovery and extraordinary weather conditions, the record-high prices for natural gas, and high CO2 emissions allowances,” the authors of the latest HEPI report noted.
The high energy bills are creating headaches for European governments: strikes and protests are multiplying and disgruntlement with energy policies is growing. The cost of living in most of Europe is already exorbitant because of the energy crisis and this crisis is only going to get worse after the EU embargoes on Russian oil and then fuels come into effect.
In some parts of Europe, according to the latest HEPI report, energy prices have reached record highs but in others, prices have actually fallen, at least in October. The news is not as good as it looks at first glance: the decline was a result of government intervention, i.e. energy subsidies.
There have been a lot of subsidies as European governments try to alleviate the financial pain on households and businesses to avoid further disgruntlement. Germany alone will be spending some $200 billion on such coping measures, including a cap on energy prices up to a certain level of consumption.
Their are many types of electric heating on the market and they vary wildly on styles and cost’s. Just some of the products on the market are:
Electric storage heaters Infrared heating panels Ceramic storage heater Clay storage heaters, Fan heaters Oil filled radiators Convector radiators Electric radiators You could also list air source and ground source heat pumps as a form of electric heating but lets leave them out of this scenario as they are not really a like for like comparison.
What type of electric heating should you buy?
Their isn’t a simple answer too that question unfortunately as it fully depends on what you are willing to spend as well as how much you care about the aesthetics of the heater and the running costs.
Long infrared heaters are relatively new to the market and a solid choice however infrared heaters are a very expensive option. When specified correctly these heaters can really provide a nice penetrative heat. Coupled with the ability to have any design you can think of printed onto them they are definitely to most pleasing to look at.
Infrared heating also claims to have potential health benefits such as improved circulation that may be worth looking into. Don’t confuse long infrared heating with short infrared heating as the latter is the glowing red heaters you may have seen on the outside pubs or restaurants.
Electric storage heaters.
Electric storage heaters have been around for a long time and boast their own tariff from utility suppliers called economy 7. This tariff gives you electricity at a reduced cost during the night(off peak) allowing the heaters to charge at a reduced rate and emit their heat through the day. However you will pay more for the peak rate.
Electric storage heaters work by heating up bricks often lined with lead during the night, the bricks retain the heat and emit it slowly during the day. Usually electric storage heaters are big and bulky and not very nice to look at however some of the new models on the market have improved this.
Clay and ceramic filled.
Clay and ceramic storage heaters are another version of electric storage heaters however the difference being that they do not charge over night.
Clay and ceramic storage heaters are heating on demand and excess heat is then stored in the ceramic or clay allowing the heaters to stay warm for longer after they have been turned off. They are usually designed in such a way that they look like conventional gas heated radiators, so nobody entering your home would really tell the difference.
Oil filled radiators.
Oil filled radiators are as they sound.
They are usually mobile radiators but can be wall mounted. They look again like conventional radiators but are instead filled with oil heated through a built in element. The oil in the radiator acts as a storage mechanism for heat and again should stay warm long after the power is off.
Anything with a storage capacity will save you money due to the retained heat however when it comes to the amount of electricity it takes to heat a room it’s all relative.
What I mean by that is a room takes exactly the same amount of watts to heat regardless of what heater you use to heat it. It is the retained heat where savings are made.
It very much’s depends on what style of heater and what you require it’s function to be when picking your next electric heater.
Infrared is a good looking choice but its high price and lack of storage make it an expensive option.
Electric storage heaters are bulky and the peak rate is often expensive.
Value for money can be had in the ceramic, clay and oil filled radiator’s as they offer a good mix of value for money, low running cost’s and pleasing aesthetics.
New guidelines effective from February 2022. These are the new regulations which have been released by the Scottish government that require all homeowners and landlords to have interlinked smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors fitted throughout the homes of Scotland.
These regulations come into force in February 2022. You can see the guidance document from Scot gov here.
What detectors you need and where you need them.
The new regulations state that you must have detectors that are interlinked with each other. This means that when one goes off, they all go off. This is to ensure that there is that everyone hears the alarms. The alarms must be hard wired or have a tamper proof 10-year lithium ion battery. The interlink can be wireless or hard wired. The alarms must be fitted throughout the home and this includes:
A smoke detector in every circulation space and on every level (this means hallways lower and upper). A smoke detector in the most frequently used rooms (this means lounges etc). A heat detector in every kitchen. A carbon monoxide detector in every home with a heating appliance using gas, LPG, heating oil or a wood burning stove. Why have these regulations been brought in? A review of the existing guidelines was carried out after the heart-breaking events that occurred at Grenfell Towers. Events like this should never happen and Scot gov have taken measures to minimise the risks of this happening in Scotland.
What happens if you ignore the changes?
Choose to ignore the regulations at your own peril. The repercussions of this can include the voiding of your home’s insurance, the inability to have a home report or EPC carried out and your local authority area can place a mandatory order on the works.
How much do smoke detectors cost to install?
Generally, homes will require 4 detectors. A heat detector for the kitchen, a smoke alarm for the lounge and hallway and finally a carbon monoxide detector.
The unit cost for these smoke alarms is around £60 for hard wired and £90 for battery operated. Bear in mind that although the mains detectors are less expensive that they will require more time from a qualified electrician to carry out the job and may involve some unsightly trunking. We recommend having the battery-operated detectors installed. This bring the cost of the parts for your whole home to around £360.
If you require fitting this may be another £80.
Its worth adding to this article that you can have a virtual assessment carried out by the fire brigade here.